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Upper Thames Firefly Weekend

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Over the weekend of 11/12 September Upper Thames Sailing Club held their annual Firefly Open meeting. Over 40 people, aged from 4 to 70 plus, went sailing on the clubs beautiful stretch of the River Thames, sharing the water with rowing skiffs, motorboats and the odd cow.

Over the years Upper Thames has developed a distinct, and probably unique, format for their Firefly weekend. The event opens with a a singlehanded race on Saturday morning, for the Bourne End Challenger Cup. Saturday afternoon’s action consists of a long distance” race for the Measurer’s Cup. Saturday evening’s entertainment consists of dinner in the club followed by a relaxed session of convivial drinking and music, this year greatly enhanced by the presence of Dave Chisholm and his legendary guitar. Suitably refreshed and rested, having spent the night camping adjacent to the club, the sailors then compete in a three race, no discard, open meeting on the Sunday, the winners being presented with the Upper Thames Firefly Challenge Cup. The event finishes with the traditional cream tea on the club lawn, this year held in beautiful, bright, sunshine.

In previous years one boat has often walked away with all three cups. Not so in 2010. The singlehanded race was won by Jonny Bickford after a close battle with Steve Greaves, Steve leading at the final mark until he hit it! Lucy Boreham and Rachel Crebbin were very popular winners of the Measurers Cup for the long distance race, successfully dodging everything the Thames could throw at them, including windshifts, weed, and the odd stag party motoring by. Steve Greaves picked up his second second of the weekend, this time sailing with wife Abigail. Barney Smith and Nicki Boot came home third.

Sunday’s Upper Thames Firefly Challenge Cup lived up to its ‘challenging’ reputation as the breeze shifted round to the west, leaving a number of dead spots under the trees to trap the unwary. Barney Smith and Alannah Witherby played the snakes and ladders to best advantage recording a consistent scoreline of 2, 2, 1 to win overall. Steve and Abigail were second again with another married couple, Mike and Deb Steele, returning a consistent scoreline to end up third overall. A special mention should go to Nigel and Sally Wakefield who were only able to compete in the first two races on Sunday, snatching the lead from Barney and Alannah on the final laps of both to record two wins. However their DNS in race three put them out of the prizes.